Tag Archives: New Mexico

Navajo Nation On Toxic Spill In Rivers: ‘Our Soul Is Hurting’


Kalyn Green of Durango, Colo. stands on the edge of the Animas River, Aug. 6, 2015.

By Avianne Tan

Navajo Nation Mourning, Pleading for Help After Toxic Mine Spill Contaminates Rivers

The Navajo Nation is mourning and pleading for help as clean storage water is depleting, after toxic spill from a mine has contaminated water flowing down the Animas River in Colorado into the San Juan River through Utah and New Mexico.

The spill happened Friday when a team of Environmental Protection Agency workers accidentally released 3 million gallons of wastewater containing heavy metals, including lead and arsenic, from the Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado, the agency said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health said Tuesday evening that the concentration of contaminants “continues to decrease” and the “department does not anticipate adverse health effects from incidental or limited exposure to metals detected in the water.

Though EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said at a news conference today that the agency’s slow response was out of caution, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said the slow response is frustrating the Navajo people, who are “weeping every day” and in “dire need of clean water,” not only for drinking, but also to sustain their organic farms and ranches.

“Our soul is hurting,” Begaye told ABC News today. “I meet people daily that weep when they see me, asking me, ‘How do I know the water will be safe?’ The Animas River and the San Juan rivers are our lifelines. Water is sacred to us. The spirit of our people is being impacted.”

PHOTO: Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye makes an announcement on Aug. 8, 2015 about the Navajo Nation response to the release of mine waste into the Animas River which has impacted the Navajo Nation water supply.

PHOTO: Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye makes an announcement on Aug. 8, 2015 about the Navajo Nation response to the release of mine waste into the Animas River which has impacted the Navajo Nation water supply.

He explained that “basic drinking water” is becoming scarce as clean storage water is depleting more rapidly than expected.

“Bottled water is becoming scarce, and my people want to know what we can drink after the clean supply runs out,” Begaye said. “We’re hauling water from wells outside the disaster area and using our own Navajo Nation funds to run these trunks back and forth. We desperately need help from outside to get good quality, safe drinking water.”

PHOTO: People kayak in the Animas River near Durango, Colo., Aug. 6, 2015, in water colored from a mine waste spill.

Additionally, farmers and ranchers will be losing thousands of dollars in revenue if they can’t find a way to irrigate their crops and provide drinking water to their cattle and livestock, Begaye said.

“We are in the middle of farming season, which is only four to five months of the whole year, and farmers are baking me to help them save their crops, many of which are not fully ripe yet,” he said. “The revenue from these crops is what our farmers need to live off for the rest of the year, so without irrigation water, they are doomed.

“Our ranchers, which have cattle, sheep, horses, goats and different livestock also graze and drink along the river,” Begaye added. “But right now, all the cattle are penned up, and these ranchers have to haul their water in, which they’re not prepared to do.”

PHOTO: The Animas River flows through the center of Durango, Colo. on Aug. 7, 2015.

Begaye explained that the Navajo are well known for their organic crops and meat, but now with the river contamination, farmers and ranchers are scared they can’t guarantee their consumers that their produce and products are going to be 100 percent organic.

Navajo tourism is also being affected because business owners of resorts and boating companies by the rivers now cannot fully operate until the water is cleared, the Navajo president added.

Begaye said the EPA sent two personnel — one who could help with any health issues and another who could help with water testing — but he said the Navajo Nation has yet to receive help from the EPA to get drinking water and more specific answers about what’s exactly in the orange-yellow waters now flowing in their sacred rivers.

PHOTO: Officials from Colorado Parks & Wildlife and a retired aquatic biologist check on cages with Rainbow trout fingerlings on Friday Aug. 7, 2015, on the Animas River in Durango, Colo.

Administrator McCarthy said today she understands the “frustration” but that the EPA has “researchers and scientists working around the clock” and is hustling to provide “alternative water supplies.”

She added there have not been any reported cases of “anyone’s health being compromised” and that the “EPA is taking full responsibility to ensure that the spill is cleaned up.”

McCarthy also mentioned that she expected there to be lawsuits against the EPA, and Begaye said in a news release Sunday that he planned to take legal action against the agency.

PHOTO: As the Animas River begins to recede it reveals a sludge left behind by the Gold King Mine spillage just north of Durango Colo. on Aug. 7, 2015.

“To recover from this from this will take a while,” Begaye told ABC News. “For our river to recover, it may take decades. But our people have faced disaster before, and as a nation, we’ll work together and do the best we can. As a nation of prayer, we are asking for prayers for our people right now, and I’d also just like to thank anyone who has reached out to us to volunteer help.”

ABC News, Posted: Aug 11, 2015

Source: http://abcn.ws/1TsHO0i

Couple Sets A Homeless Native American Man On Fire While Their Kids Watch (VIDEO)

Joshua Benavidez and Irene Enriquez are facing a string of charges over the incident which left the victim in intensive care

Joshua Benavidez and Irene Enriquez are facing a string of charges over the incident which left the victim in intensive care

By Red Power Media, Staff

A couple has been arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after allegedly setting fire to a homeless Native American man in front of their children as a prank, US police have said.

Joshua Benavidez and Irene Enriquez, both 31, were taken into custody on Wednesday, July 22, on suspicion of carrying out the July 11 attack in front of their two sons, aged 8 and 12, and 2-year-old daughter.

“I just want to say I’m sorry to my family and to my children,” Enriquez told local television station KOB 4 as they were led away by polce.

According to officials, the couple pulled up next to the pavement beside a Native American man — who was sleeping curbside — and started throwing fireworks at him from their car which caused his clothing to catch fire.

As they drove away, the couple noticed the man’s pants had caught on fire and claimed that they attempted to extinguish the fire by pouring water on the man who was said to be unconscious at the time. However, police say that Benavidez told his partner to return to the vehicle and they fled the scene.

A surveillance video released by Albuquerque New Mexico police showed the purple SUV belonging to Benavidez and, officials say, the couple changed the color of the vehicle to white after the brutal attack.

While the couple told local media that this was a prank solely intended on “rattling” the man, they have been charged with aggravated battery with great bodily harm, tampering with evidence, and conspiracy.

The children, who were in the back of the vehicle, revealed to police that the couple did throw the firework on the sleeping homeless man. Benavidez and Enriquez were also charged with child abuse and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

According to officials, the Native American man is still in the intensive care unit at a New Mexico hospital.

Navajo Women Walk 1,000 Miles To Protest Pipeline

By Leigh Cuen | Vocativ, Posted 04/07/15

Since January, over 70 Navajo people have joined a prayer walk across the American Southwest protesting a fracking oil pipeline in New Mexico. The walk aims to galvanize Native American communities to demand more from oil companies that profit from the reservations’ natural resources.

The participants started with a crowdfunding campaign that raised almost $6,000 to support their year-long journey. Over the past few months, the Nihígáál Bee iina group has used digital media to share their spiritual traditions, connecting Navajo communities across the country.

They are chronicling their journey on a Facebook page: “Despite being at the forefront of energy extraction, our people do not see its benefits; approximately 25% of our people today live without electricity and running water on the Navajo Nation, while our economy functions at an unemployment rate of about 60%.”

The group calls this 1,000-mile protest their Journey for Existence, commemorating the 150th anniversary of “The Long Walk,” where thousands of Diné (Navajo people) were marched at gunpoint for hundreds of miles into Bosque Redondo, a concentration camp where they would stay for four years.

Albuquerque cops charged with murder in fatal shooting of homeless man at campsite


A New Mexico prosecutor has bypassed a grand jury and filed murder charges Monday against two Albuquerque police officers who shot and killed a mentally ill homeless man last year at his illegal campsite.

James Boyd had been camping March 16 in a restricted area in the foothills above the city after homeless shelters were closed, friends said.

Police negotiated for nearly five hours with the 36-year-old Boyd before an officer fired a flash-bang grenade at the homeless man, who appears disoriented and grabs a knife.

Boyd, who was a paranoid schizophrenic, was shot to death after taking a step toward officers.

KRQE reported that District Attorney Kari Brandenburg would file open murder charges against Dominique Perez, a SWAT officer, and former detective Keith Sandy, who retired from the department eight months after the fatal shooting.

The charges were announced Monday morning.

Albuquerque has one of the highest rates of police shootings in the nation, but the murder charges would be the first time an officer with the department had faced criminal charges for shooting someone in the line of duty.

New Mexico law permits prosecutors to file charges without a grand jury indictment, although the practice is rare.

The officers will be permitted to contest the charges at a preliminary hearing, and a District Court judge will then decide whether there is probable cause to bind the cases over for trial.

A jury would consider a range of charges – including voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum six-year prison term, to first-degree murder, which carries a possible life sentence.